It’s probably one of your worst fears. You open up your results and find that you’ve not met your university offer requirements. Students have nightmares about this every year, and we can’t lie, sometimes these nightmares come true.
However, all is not necessarily lost. Let’s think about the types of offers you may have received, and what happens if you are one of those folk who don’t quite attain those grades you really wanted.
What is a conditional offer?
So, a conditional offer is one that you’ll need those grades for. It’s the most common kind of university offer that a student will receive from a university.
Essentially, it’s an offer that a university makes to you based on your predicted grades at either A Level or college level. This offer will be made prior to you receiving your college grades, whatever it is that you may have studied, and generally, you’ll be expected to fulfill these grades to confirm the offer.
Where an unconditional offer guarantees a student a place on a course regardless of their college grades, a conditional offer doesn’t. Yes, you’ll feel the pressure, but it’s not necessarily the end of your dream to go to a certain university.
What happens if you don't meet your conditional offer?
We’re not going to lie, most students who miss their offer probably won’t get on to that specific course. However, universities have been known to make exceptions to this rule.
It’s easy to assume that conditional offers will be instantly dismissed, but many students are still accepted under their conditional offer terms, even if they don't quite meet them. We live in times where some universities are prepared to be flexible. If you miss your UCAS tariff points by one or two points, for example, the university may still admit you.
You must get in touch with the university as soon as possible and see if they are willing to negotiate. Your best bet is to call up the admissions office and see what they have to say. You may well end up pleasantly surprised and still get on the course. If the answer is still no, then there are other things you can do.
Next steps - Clearing
If you don’t get onto your desired course at your desired university, your next step is probably Clearing. Let’s clear a few things up regarding Clearing because you’ll have probably heard all sorts of rumours about the Clearing process - but be careful what you believe!
Clearing is not just a last resort attempt at a university career. It’s not something you should be ashamed of, or scared to tell anyone about. Clearing is used by thousands of students each year for a variety of reasons. It’s all about giving yourself options.
So, let’s start at the beginning - what is Clearing?
Clearing is where university applicants are matched to university places that haven't been filled. Clearing is available to anyone who has made an application to university through the UCAS Undergraduate application process but doesn't hold any offers, or who has turned down offers for whatever reason. It’s a very busy process, and one that thousands of students use to get where they need to be.
While it might seem daunting and confusing, Clearing is actually very simple and potentially life changing. You might have changed your mind last minute on where or what you want to study, which is pretty common. You may have underachieved and not made your desired grades, or on the reverse side of the coin, overachieved and want to apply to a better university or explore a different degree course.
Usually students contact universities with their grades and are then matched with any suitable courses that still have places available. Decisions and offers are usually made on the phone, within the space of a few days, or even on the spot. Clearing enables you complete freedom to contact whichever university you want, so it is actually a very rewarding and satisfying experience for most who do it.
Or, you could think about a gap year
Ok, so it’s not exactly gone to plan. You’ve not got on the course of your dreams and you are so deflated that you don’t want to go through Clearing. Well, why not think about spreading your wings and embark on a gap year?
Many higher education institutions approve of gap years and think that a year out before you begin university is beneficial because it promotes independence, heightens a person’s self-awareness and often cultural awareness, and builds skills that are vital for living away from home.
A gap year ahead of beginning your university education will surely lead to a broader sense of maturity, potentially help you pay towards your university expenses if you choose to work during at home or abroad during your gap year, and most importantly, give you the opportunity to really think about your university choices and consider whether the subject you’ve signed up to study really is right for you.
So, all is not lost! Whatever you decide if you don’t meet your offer requirements, the future is still bright. Be positive and have confidence - after all, what’s for you won’t pass you by!